Nature. 2010 Nov 17. [Epub ahead of print]
 Molecular Neurobiology Program, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, Department of Cell Biology, New York University, School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA  These authors contributed equally to this work.
The odour of acids has a distinct quality that is perceived as sharp, pungent and often irritating. How acidity is sensed and translated into an appropriate behavioural response is poorly understood. Here we describe a functionally segregated population of olfactory sensory neurons in the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, that are highly selective for acidity. These olfactory sensory neurons express IR64a, a member of the recently identified ionotropic receptor (IR) family of putative olfactory receptors. In vivo calcium imaging showed that IR64a+ neurons projecting to the DC4 glomerulus in the antennal lobe are specifically activated by acids. Flies in which the function of IR64a+ neurons or the IR64a gene is disrupted had defects in acid-evoked physiological and behavioural responses, but their responses to non-acidic odorants remained unaffected. Furthermore, artificial stimulation of IR64a+ neurons elicited avoidance responses. Taken together, these results identify cellular and molecular substrates for acid detection in the Drosophila olfactory system and support a labelled-line mode of acidity coding at the periphery.
PMID: 21085119 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]